What Will BYU's Football Schedule Look Like If They Go Independent?

Holger DanskeContributor IIIAugust 18, 2010

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 19:  Cosmo the mascot of Brigham Young University Cougars gets the fans going before the game against the Florida State Seminoles at La Vell Edwards Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Provo, Utah.  (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak via Getty Images)
Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

Navy’s 2010 schedule

1)      Maryland

2)      Georgia Southern

3)      Louisiana Tech

4)      Air Force

5)      Wake Forest

6)      SMU

7)      Notre Dame

8)      Duke

9)      East Carolina

10)   Central Michigan

11)   Arkansas State

12)   Army

Notre Dame’s 2010 Schedule

1)      Purdue

2)      Michigan

3)      Michigan State

4)      Stanford

5)      Boston College

6)      Pitt

7)      Western Michigan

8)      Navy

9)      Tulsa

10)   Utah

11)   Army

12)   USC

If you could choose:

Which schedule would you prefer if you were BYU?  Notre Dame’s schedule is full of big names and storied programs, yet BYU would be favored in 9 of those 12 games.  The other 3, Pitt, Utah, and USC, are by no means beyond the Cougars.  BYU could go 11-1, or possibly 10-2 with this schedule and still be in the top 12 in the final BCS poll, which if they get the same deal ND has, would put them into a guaranteed BCS game.  Even without the guarantee, they would be eligible for an at large bid. 

If BYU had Navy’s schedule, they would likely be favored in every game, but they wouldn’t play anybody.  When the Central Michigan Chippewas are the best team on your schedule, something is wrong.  Sure, they could get into a BCS game if they went undefeated is they had the Notre Dame deal, but without such a deal, an undefeated BYU team with such a schedule could easily go the way of the 2008 BSU Broncos.  Win all of your games, finish in the top 10 in the final BCS poll, but get overlooked by the bowl selection committees because they didn’t play anybody.

In addition to the difference in BCS game possibilities, there is a huge difference in exposure and media coverage.  BYU would be on a major TV channel nearly every week with a schedule like ND’s.  With a Navy schedule you’d get ND, and maybe Duke, Maryland, or Wake Forest if it’s a slow football weekend.


What’s likely to happen:

Dreaming that BYU can actually get a schedule of Notre Dame quality is nice and all, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  The cougars will have to take what they can get, at least at first.  Let’s see if we can put together a schedule that the Cougars could actually arrange, yet still be good enough to finish in the top 12 in the final BCS poll even with 1 loss.

The givens (or at least very likelys):

1)      Utah St.  It continues a “rivalry” and is an almost guaranteed game every year.  Without a conference, BYU needs some teams that will add consistency to their schedule.

2)      Utah.  Most years these 2 teams should be able to work out a date to play each other.  It is a bitter rivalry, but for BYU it is also an annual game against an upper tier BCS opponent.

The Probables (or at least possibles):      

3)      Notre Dame.  Each of the 3 independents currently play each other.  I don’t know if they would accept BYU into their circle, but I think there would be at least a fairly decent chance of it.  This would be big for BYU because it gives them a second quality BCS opponent to play year in and year out.

4)      Navy.  A good, but not great team.  The annual contests though would add to the stability of the Cougar schedule.

5)      Army.  Once again, the stability of playing a team on an annual basis can be very valuable to a new independent. 

The Mid Level BCS Home and Aways:

6 & 7) 2 mid level/ aspiring Pac 12 teams.  BYU already has a history of playing Pac 12 teams and can usually get a couple mid level/ aspiring teams to agree to a home and away series.  Note:  Mid level teams are just that; middle of the conference teams.  They aren’t afraid of scheduling a BYU type team because they really don’t expect to go undefeated.  If they lose, it’s just a non conference game.  If they win, It is a quality win they can hang their hat on.  Aspiring teams are good teams that are trying to take the next step up and so they schedule challenging nonconference teams.  Oregon St. and FSU are good examples of this category.

8)   A mid level/ aspiring non Pac 12 team.  Some exposure outside of the Pac 12 footprint would be   a good idea.

The Pay of Play Team:

9)   Let’s face it, about the only way BYU will get a chance to play an elite team is either to get an exhibition game, like they had against Oklahoma last year, or to accept a payout for a one and done at the other teams stadium, like they have with Texas in 2011.  I think that if BYU goes independent, they should try to schedule at least one of these games per year. 

The Play for Pay Team:

10)  The problem with playing a Pay for Play team, is that you need a Play for Pay Team to balance it the Home/Away schedule.  BYU would have to find a team willing to have a one and done in Provo in exchange for cash.  The goal would be a FBS team, but if they have to sink to a FCS team, so be it.

The “Whoever They Feel Like Scheduling” Teams: 

11 & 12) With most of the Key games nailed down, these two games are open to whoever the Cougars feel like scheduling.  Preferably though, one of them should either be a AQ conference team, or a good non AQ team.


Schedule Overview:

1 elite team.

2 good, regularly ranked, BCS teams in Utah and Notre Dame (assuming ND gets better, which I think they will.

3 or 4 mid level BCS teams

1-3 “cup cakes” aka non BCS teams with losing records.

2-5 mid to good non BCS teams.

I think this schedule would be 1) possible for BYU to arrange, and 2) strong enough that BYU would be in the top 12 of the BCS final poll even with 1 loss.  Just for fun, I’m going to put in actual teams for the generic ones and see what this schedule could actually look like.

1)      Utah St.

2)      Utah

3)      Notre Dame

4)      Army

5)      Navy

6)      Oregon St

7)      UCLA

8)      Florida St

9)      Texas

10)   San Jose St

11)   Kansas St.

12)   Air Force

Now that is a schedule that I would like to see.  Challenging, yet doable.  Not to mention fun to watch.  Let’s hope that if BYU does go independent, the athletic department has the intelligence and the guts to set up a schedule like this.





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